Survivors of Bell 412 Helicopter crash in “good general condition”

─ investigations have commenced  

The survivors of the Bell 412 crash that claimed the lives of five officers of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) have suffered no major injuries.

This was reported by GDF Medical Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Nigel Langhorne, during a press briefing on Saturday morning.

“I am happy to report that there were no injuries of significance, they were all in good general condition. They are in good spirits and their families are alongside them, supporting them,” he said.

GDF Chief of Staff, Brigadier Omar Khan

In what was described as an intricate and delicate mission, the GDF was able to extract the survivors and the remains of those who perished on Friday. The survivors were brought to Georgetown for further medical attention.

The five servicemen who perished were Brigadier Gary Beaton- Project Engineer, GOG; Colonel Michael Shahoud, Commander of 1st Infantry Battalion; Lt. Col. Michael Charles, Pilot; Lt. Col. Sean Welcome, Commanding Officer Reserve Battalion; and Staff Sergeant Jason Khan of 31 Special Forces Squadron.

GDF Medical Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Nigel Langhorne

The team was on a command mission to visit and supply rations to the troops in the border communities of Arau, Eteringbang, and Makapa.

The chopper departed Base Camp Ayanganna at 09:23 hours on Wednesday for Arau, carrying three crew members and four passengers. At 11:20 hours, the aircraft transmitted an Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) approximately 30 miles east of Arau on Guyana’s western borders. The aircraft landed at Olive Creek to refuel and shortly after its take-off, communication was lost.

The ELT signal was received by the Air Traffic Services at Timehri Control Tower, and the sky van was subsequently prepped for a search and rescue operation, with a team from the Special Forces and the support of an Omni-helicopter.

However, unfavourable weather hampered the operation, and it was suspended, but resumed on Thursday morning. A special forces team was inserted into the crash site at around 14:30 hours on Thursday, and at around 14:47 hours, the team reported that there were only two survivors; Lieutenant Andio Michael Crawford and Corporal Wayne Jackson.

Highlighting that the priority is ensuring that these survivors receive sufficient medical attention, Chief of Staff, Brigadier Omar Khan said that the process has already begun for an investigation into the events surrounding the crash.

This investigation will be undertaken by the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority, and the Guyana Police Force. 

The GDF will also conduct an internal board of inquiry.

“We have handed over a number of items to the civil aviation authority, and the police also has commenced their investigation…We have also convened a board to be done with our own protocols. This incident has resulted in a loss of lives, we want to know why, within our own system,” the Army Chief disclosed.